It’s Time for CU to Be CU Again

UPDATE: Terry Frei at the Denver Post has posted an article entitled, “CU-CSU Series can be saved on campus“.

Frei’s article is mild and even-handed compared to the vitriol spewed out by Coloradoan writer Matt Stephens put out in an article entitled, “Rocky Mountain Showdown is CU’s cry for attention“. One paragraph:

A 54-year-old man (CU Athletic Director) became the center of attention on National Signing Day, not the 18 kids who thought CU would be a good place to fulfill their lifelong dream of playing college football.

Oh, how the once-above-average have fallen.

Why else would George throw such a fit?

… Fair warning: Read the Stephens’ article only if you have a great deal of self control, and are not prone to throw items across the room when riled (and certainly stay away from the “Comments” section).

P.S. Thanks for all of the comments … This is obviously an important issue for the Buff Nation!



It started quietly enough, a minor notation in an otherwise hectic week for Colorado football.

Playing on the timing of the publicity surrounding Signing Day and the announcement of the hiring of former South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt as CU’s new defensive coordinator, the CU athletic department sent out its season ticket renewal forms.

Nothing unusual there … it was certainly a wise strategy to ask Buff fans to send in their season ticket renewals with the CU football team in the news.

But with the renewal packages came a small change in format for ticket purchases … And it was that small change which set off a firestorm of controversy and name-calling.

The ticket renewal email contained the following language concerning the Rocky Mountain Showdown:

This year, we have added some options for you for the CSU game:

If you prefer not to attend the CSU game in Denver, you are able to opt-out of that game and use the value of your tickets for that game to buy additional single game tickets for a game in Folsom Field in 2015 at Season Ticket Holder prices.

If you would like to go to the CSU game, but would prefer to pay a lower price, you will also have the option to downgrade your seats to our lowest price point, and use the difference in value towards the purchase of additional single game tickets for a game in Folsom Field in 2015 at Season Ticket Holder prices.

The new policy represented a shift for CU, and a recognition that many Buff fans have little love for playing the Rocky Mountain Showdown. Kyle Ringo of the Daily Camera followed up on the new policy with an article interviewing CU athletic director Rick George about the future of the RMS, which has a contract between Colorado and Colorado State running through to the 2020 season.

“We have a contract and we have to honor it and we’ll do that, and we hope to continue to have a dialogue about bringing it back to campus,” George said, noting that in the 18 months he has been CU’s athletic director, moving the series back to campus has been the topic most often brought up by Buff supporters.

The article concluded with this quote from George: “My job is to do what’s best for CU, our athletic department, our teams, our student-athletes and the president and chancellor are very aware of how I feel about this,” George said. “My job is to do what’s in our best interests and I think what’s in our best interests right now is trying to move this game back on campus if we can. We haven’t been able to do that.

“To have a game beyond 2020 at this point, I’m not sure that is in our best interest.”

These comments were jumped on by the Denver media, which, for whatever reason, has never been friendly to CU athletics. Terry Frei of the Denver Post (who prefaces every damnation of CU athletics with “I am a proud CU alum”) went on the radio to state that CU wanting to discontinue the series was “a petulant way to take your ball and go home”.

Rick George then called into the “Sandy and Scott” show on 104.3 the Fan (which can be listened to here) to clarify what he had stated about the contract: “… we are looking at our schedules, past 2020, and that may or may not involve CSU”, said George. “But right now, post-20, we don’t have any interest in extending (the RMS contract)”.

The battle with the media also went to Twitter. Matt Stephens, who writes for the Coloradoan in Fort Collins, tweeted: “Best part pf Rick George’s comments yesterday: A 54-year-old man decided he needed to be the headline on National Signing Day, not the kids”.  This prompted CU SID Dave Plati to tweet, asking rhetorically what PR people should do: “Cut off interviews to any media who use twitter to take cheap shots at our people. Those who engage are not professionals, they’re immature”.

Want more? Woody Paige even went so far as to suggest that he would go to the state legislature and demand CU be forced to play CSU (for those to young to remember, that was how the Rams forced the Buffs back onto the playing field in 1983, after a 25-year hiatus. Of course, with the state legislature’s support of higher education amounting to less than ten percent of CU’s budget, such threats don’t carry as much weight as they did in 1983).

And don’t even get me started on Mark Kizla at the Denver Post, who seemingly has nothing better to do than tear down the University of Colorado at every opportunity. An example of Kizla’s latest ranting:

“CU football stinks. The attendance at Folsom Field stinks. The latest recruiting class of coach Mike MacIntyre stinks. So, looking for a distraction, athletic director Rick George went off on a rant, yelling at the Rams to get off his lawn and threatening to cancel the Rocky Mountain Showdown when the contract expires in 2020 because CU wants the game back on campus sites, not in Denver. Pardon me while I laugh at George. You mad, bro? Settle down”.

Finally, however, the voice of reason, Neill Woelk, came once again to the rescue. The former columnist for the Daily Camera posted a piece entitled, “Buffs Can Dictate Terms of CU-CSU series“. It should be read in its entirety by every Buff fans, and can be found here.

Some excerpts:

First and foremost, Rick George is a businessman who happens to be involved in college athletics. His job is to create a successful department, both in terms of wins and losses and the bottom line — and the two are inextricably linked.

A game at Folsom Field is much more valuable to George and his customer base than a game in Denver. It’s why George has been trying to change the terms of the current contract and move some of the upcoming games back to Boulder.

…. But the big sticking point is this: they also want a two-for-one deal, meaning two games in Boulder for every game played in Fort Collins or Denver.

That, of course, isn’t playing well in Fort Collins. Interim athletic director John Morris told the Loveland Reporter-Herald last week, “We cannot agree to two games in Boulder and one in Fort Collins. It would have to be a fair agreement.”

But “fair” has never been a cornerstone of business negotiations. George and the Buffs are not interested in “fair.”

… The best solution might be one that has the two schools playing two or three times every five or six years. It would keep interest at a peak and would give both schools a chance to bring other quality opponents into their stadiums when their schedules allow it.

But unless an outside force steps in to change the dynamic, one thing has become quite clear:

The terms will be dictated by CU. If the Rams want the pay day, they’ll agree to those terms.

Otherwise, both programs will go their separate ways.

That’s just the way business works.

My take?

I agree with CU athletic director Rick George as well as Neill Woelk.

CU needs to make a business decision which is in the best interests of the University of Colorado. And continuing to play in Denver does not meet that criterion.

The Buffs are already locked into a nine game Pac-12 schedule, leaving CU with three non-conference games to schedule each season – two each year in which CSU is already on the schedule. Every other year, the Buffs will have five road games to play in conference. Adding in the neutral site game in Denver, CU is already away from campus for six games in those years, with only the four home conference games and two non-conference games left to schedule.

Translation: With the CSU game in Denver, every two year cycle CU has four non-conference games with which to work, and to have a minimum of six home games each year (when some schools have the luxury of playing seven or eight lucrative home games), CU must have three of those four non-conference games be home games.

Try and schedule attractive home-and-home series against worthy opponents with those restrictions.

Want to know why CU has to schedule one-and-done road games against the likes of Ohio State and Michigan?

The Rocky Mountain Showdown.

Want to know why CU has to schedule one-and-done home games against the likes of Nicholls State and Idaho State?

The Rocky Mountain Showdown.

What I appreciate about Rick George is his being honest about CU’s future, even though it might “look bad” to the Denver media. True enough, right now Colorado State is on a high, and Colorado is at an all-time low, but history suggests that will not remain the case.

CSU has won two of the last three games? Yippee. Try an all-time series record of 62-22-2.

CU has suffered through the worst decade-plus in school history. The Buffs’ record in the series the past 12 years? 8-4.

CSU had to force big brother back on to the playing field in 1983 to show it was CU’s equal. The series record since the “rivalry” was resumed in 1983? CU 19 wins; CSU 8.

Yes, CU will take a hit in the media for demanding the series go back to campus, and insisting on a two-for-one deal if the teams do continue to play past 2020.

But it’s time Colorado stop asking for permission from the outside world every time it wants to make a bold move. CU athletics has been cowered for the past dozen or more years, first by sex scandals which didn’t exist, then by sexual assault charges which were never filed. Lately, mired in a series of losing seasons unprecedented in school history, Colorado sat back mildly and took its beatings as if they were deserved.

Well, no longer.

The CU athletic department has finally decided that enough is enough. Facility upgrades are no longer part of a “ten-year plan” (which never seemed to get any closer than ten years out). CU now has a head coach who understands what it takes to be competitive in the Pac-12 conference, and is building a nucleus of personnel – both on and off the field – which can make that a reality.

And CU has an athletic director who will do what’s right for the University of Colorado when it comes to the Rocky Mountain Showdown, refusing to be bullied by media outcry or little brother pouting.

That’s the way it should be.

It’s time for CU to once again be CU.


17 Replies to “It’s Time for CU to Be CU Again”

  1. “The ticket renewal email contained the following language concerning the Rocky Mountain Showdown:

    This year, we have added some options for you for the CSU game:
    If you prefer not to attend the CSU game in Denver, you are able to opt-out of that game and use the value of your tickets for that game to buy additional single game tickets for a game in Folsom Field in 2015 at Season Ticket Holder prices.”

    When they add the option to opt-out of the RMS and lower season tcket prices by that amount, then I will consider renewing our season tickets. We need the option to buy a season ticket package that includes only games played at Folsom Field. As it is now, it doesn’t look like I will be able to renew our season tickets until at least the year 2020.

  2. I’m beg the question that Oregon Buff and a few others have asked…why does the Denver media hate the Buffs? Does it truly stem back from when the Buffs left the Rocky Mountain Conference? That was ages ago. It has to be something else.

    In any event, good for you RG!

    Great article Stuart!

  3. Spot on with this. Simply put, CSU needs CU a hell of a lot more than the opposite direction. It is time that the AD not allow themselves to be dictated to by the media or Colorado State. Good to see RG bringing some spine to the Athletic Department.

  4. Thank you stu, I live in fort collins, which is a wonderful town but if I heard one more ignorant comment about cu being scared I was going to have to bust some kneecaps…jk jk. Great to read the woelk article and your response. It’s what I’ve been yelling at these people since signing day. Gosh I hope we whip their pants off this year

  5. Great article Stuart…plain and simple Rick Goerge has to do what is best for the athletic department financially. I live out of state and come to at least one home game a year. Never have I considered attending the RMS because it’s in Denver. If I’m going to attend a CU game I want to watch it in one of the most beautiful settings in college football…Boulder!

  6. Stuart, what is really sad about the media vs CU is the fact that the media controlling the coverage on the front range is localized in Denver…. which is Bronco territory… Period. (And CSU friendly, with perhaps the exception of KOA).

    This brings to question why we don’t see any NFL franchises in Oklahoma City. (?) Well, OU and OSU won’t allow it and they have deep pockets to keep the OKC city council and state legislators under their wing. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so.

    This, now, helps illuminate CU’s problem. How do you think the Sooners and OSU Cowboys would do if the OKC media gave the majority of their focus on an NFL team? Well, that’s a hypothetical question which has no objective answer.

    Do you think I have a valid point regarding the media vs CU ?

  7. Dead on point Stuart. Nice job. And it’s also time for CU football to be CU football again where it counts: on the field. Last week showed signs we’re headed there.

  8. Thank you Stuart! I agree with everyone posting on here. It is amazing how the local media LOVES to trash CU every chance they get. It’s time for CU fans and alumni to band together and support the program. It’s been a rough five years but I fully believe our football program is heading in the right direction with the right leadership. Thank you Rick George for listening to the fans and being a real leader and putting CU’s best interest in mind. It’s always been fashionable for the local media to bash CU so let’s just embrace being the bad guy. GO BUFFS!

    1. Nothing new about the Denver Media, they have hated CU ever since the Buffs left the old Rocky Mountain Conference for the Big 8. That essentailly destroyed both the DU and CSU programs until CSU was able to hire Earl Bruce after he was boooted from tOSU. DU never recovered, giving up FB for hockey eminence. Old Denver Posts always called CU “Big Time Cholly” for moving up to the Big 8. Then when the Donkeys showed up, they pushed that sad-sack bunch to ridiculous lengths, sacrificing CU’s best efforts at every turn. (Didn’t help the Buffs that the Ath Dept was run for years by the “Boulder Mafia”, who considered going to Bouder a for a game a “privilege”, rather than competing for all transient fans’ recreation dollars, though.)

  9. Yo Stuart,

    Great write up. I have been this fired up for years about the absolute stupidity of playing the game in Denver. The stadium looks empty, the Denver media really doesn’t care (except for the fact that they get to stay in Denver instead of driving up to Boulder).

    Personally, I have NEVER (and will NEVER) attend a CU game in Denver against CSU. I’ve seen ’em on the road, and watched from the stands as they played for a National Championship, so hitting the road to see my Buffs is not a problem. Pumped up prices and driving to Denver will never be worth my while, and I am glad that our AD Rick George knows and understands that many (if not most) Buff fans feel exactly the same way.

    If I am going to put up the money for a game away from Folsom Field, I’m going someplace a great deal more desirable than Denver. Hell, now that my kids are grown and the airport has moved, the only time I go through Denver is to get through it on the way to something better.

    Thanks for sharing that the Rocky Mountain Rip-off is a waste of time for the University of Colorado and their fans. It’s time for CSU to stand on their own feet instead of counting on big brother to put them in the spotlight.

    And, lastly, the Denver Post SUCKS. Back in the days when more than one company owned EVERY newspaper, their was real competition to provide news for the readers. Now that it’s a monopoly, they just whine. Thankfully, now we have the internet and people like you who are much more knowledgeable about Colorado athletics than they ever will be.

    Keep up the great work. Go CU! And boycott the Rocky Mountain Oyster Bowl.

    (all the way from China)

  10. Stuart, I wish everyone who has read and heard all the whining, and hand wringing regarding this issue in the Denver media could read your article. The Denver Media has never really supported CU at the level that major media centers do in other states for their flagship university.

    A now deceased sports writer in Denver gave hung the name on CU as “Big Time Cholly,” this was even before they joined the old Big 7. After that it really got crazy as some of them were advocating that everyone just say good riddance and boycott football games in Boulder and go to the DU games. When is the last time anyone saw a football game at DU?

    I hope CU plays hardball with this issue and while that is happening also becomes relevant again in football so that all these naysayers and critics can stuff it.

  11. Mark kizla is a soccer mom. One that probably has no clue about soccer either.
    the only way he can get any ratings is by being a yellow journalism jerk or by trespassing.
    Woody Paige is an arrogant blowhard who still cant mentally leave his blessed Tennessee.
    These guys can slobber all over themselves for eternity before CU will capitulate to their petulance.
    If the Denver Post clown car doesn’t like it they can quit paying any attention to the Buffs at all for all I care.
    let CSU somehow materialize their wet dream of a stadium let alone filling it before they make any kind of demands.

  12. Oh, and think of it this way, would CSU be willing to play a neutral site game against UNC every year, even if it made them less money than playing in their own stadium? Yeah, I thought not.

  13. Great work, Stuart.

    Thank you for laying out why the RMS does not work from a biz standpoint. In addition to that, it does not work from a fan standpoint either. So, the morons writing these articles think George is supposed to ignore both the economics AND the Buff fans?

    I, for one, am glad we finally have an AD that will stick up for us and do right by CU and its fans, rather than subsidizing CSU and kow-towing to the media.

    Here are the quick fan points from a decades long season ticket holder:

    1) We prefer to go to Boulder for our games and get the college atmosphere (including those of us who live in Denver).
    2) We prefer to sit in our own seats, next to all of our friends and family who purchase tickets.
    3) If we are going to play a game in Denver, we prefer one that hosts different teams every year. It’s boring to play the same, non-conf team every year.
    4) If we are going to play a game in Denver, we prefer to play a rotation of Power 5 teams from other areas of the country, where we actually have something to gain by winning. Note that, per a long standing tradition of CU scheduling, we are unafraid of losing…as we would prefer to see Ohio State come in, even if it means a lopsided loss, than playing the same non-Power 5 team, year after year. It just doesn’t make sense.

    So, if CSU wants to play us in Denver so badly, they can join a Power 5, and then get in the rotation with a bunch of other teams!

  14. Well said Stuart. I could not agree more with you and the other posters here. I’m so sick and tired of mouth-breathing dorks like Mark Kiszla and Vic Lombardi acting like CU is the devil and the Angels in Ft. Collins can do nothing wrong. As if CU owes CSU something? The game in Denver is a lose-lose proposition for CU. And it’s not like CSU even sells out their allotment to that game anyway. If you want to play with the big boys, you have to play by the big boy rules. It’s a lesson CU has been learning the hard way for the last 8-10 years. Sorry lammies, but your fundraiser game is coming to an end. The gravy train is shutting down. If you want to come to Boulder that’s fine. Otherwise go cry to someone that cares.

  15. It’s quite simple…..Rick George has to raise $105M in order to make this program financially successful in both the long and short term. He only had to make one determination, does the series with CSU get him closer to that goal than any alternative that is feasible. Yes or No.

    The reason was Jizla (and the rest of those half-wits) are a reporter/ talk show host and not a businessman, is that it takes a brain to be a businessman.

    If my dog could talk, I could get him a gig on the radio, and if he could type, a job at the paper.

  16. Great article Stuart, thank you. Maybe you our another reader can explain to me why the Denver media is so anti CU? I never understood all the disdain for the Buffs. Another question I have is why are all the Denver media so excited by the RMS? I mean really, why all this love for CSU? I live in Portland and while the Ducks get most of the praise and recognition, I feel the media here at least give the Beavs love and praise as well.

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